Many folk do not like re-writes. For those of you who do not and for those of you on your first work and have heard nightmare stories about re-writes, please read on.
And for some a chance to say ‘Hah! Not Just Me Then’
Well I did it by Jove! On the 31st December 2019 at 6.37pm UK GMT I completed Volume 3 of the Precipice Dominions Working Title ‘Daughters of the Hard Road‘. The work comprises some 200,000+ words.
And did I feel a sense of fulfillment? One of joy and completion?
Of course not! It’s the first draft. A collection of words redolent with plot-holes, inconsistencies and swerves in direction. Something which had started as escapade of rescuing someone from somewhere then escorting them to somewhere else while battling all sort of assailants and treacheries against a backdrop of a fragmenting empire, ’round about word 75,000 lurched. Or maybe gently slid. I am not sure. Anyway suddenly one major character Karlyn is kidnapped by her own family, her now spouse Arketre is thrown into a military setting which became based on the Battle of Stalingrad with a smattering of betrayals and Trelli is pivoted into something which might have been based on a Greek or Nordic or Celtic adventure saga with attendant message. By word 125,000 (or so) all the attendant supporting cast are engaged in a Game of Thrones; Apocalypse Now; Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy mash-up.
Throughout this Karlyn has to deal with a dual identity, Trelli seems to spend most of her time trying to patch up everyone else’s mistakes while Arketre gathers her own devoted following and is complicit in a lot of deaths. Eventually a conclusion is reached with some measures of justice being dispensed here and there and our trio although safe and reasonably sound definitely not being hailed by a grateful empire, as it’s falling apart. And the whole thing is far too messy.
Yes, I know. 200, 000 words to say that???? Small wonder you say it is messy. Of course the re-write beckons. The re-write was positively screaming to be let lose, even with 30,000 words to go. That was not the time to undo things though. I would assert a writer can re-start a work too many times, eventually they will become discouraged and give up. Far better I reckon to forge ahead to a sort of conclusion, trying out ideas along the way and then….Yes! The re-write!! The blessed, long awaited re-write!!
I like re-writes. Aside from giving me a chance to repair the damage caused by a frenetic churning out of ideas which have nothing to do with the supposed continuity and also do something about the mischievous cyber-pixies who insert typos when you know for certain you typed it correctly…..’cause Microsoft Word is never wrong and always alert to help you out….yeah….write (sic). Then are also these important reasons:
- The Plot: Yes, it’s in there somewhere, I can definitely remember seeing somewhere around word 90,000, and it did surface again, briefly around 140,000. Once I find it, straighten it out check for plausibility (even in a fantasy novel some measure is required) then nuance everything around, it should not be too difficult to keep The Plot above water
- The Saga Continuity: As anyone writing vast sweeping fantasy series will tell you there is nothing so embarrassing as finding a great big grating, grinding screech as when something from one book clashes with an interlude from a previous book. And I found one when innocently looking for the name of a very minor character. It is horrendous, like not just a whole princedom but affects an entire region. A veritable seismic event, but noted before publication….ah the blessed re-write.
- Opportunities knocks: When repairing other damage or ironing out kinks allows the introduction of little bits I forgot to put in when forging through from one event to another.
- Writing When Not Concentrating: Those ‘What was I thinking of when wrote… that‘ interludes. I find a great deal of satisfaction in removing those. Mind you, some of the larger ‘chunks’ might have a passage or two worth using later one. Thus before deleting I Copy & Paste them into a folder for future plundering.
- Over use of one word/phrase:. You’ve met it haven’t you? In a book one author I admire had habit of having a principal character ‘chuckle’…..every chapter; since the character was a grim and hard-nosed type his ‘chuckle’ became irritating and I wondered whether it was a nervous thing. In my own work I am aware too many of my folk ‘know’ something or are wont to smile in various ways. There will be a need to Ctrl & F then type in either ‘know’ or ‘smile’ and see how many entries can be removed and replaced.
- Yessssss!: My wife has become used to me suddenly clutching my left fist and hissing out the word; signifying something worked really well. It has a cousin which is ‘Wow! Did I write that?’. Discovering these interludes are good for the writer’s soul. You all have them, they are sweet to encounter and serve to keep a writer going through those ‘other’ patches.
So, there is much to be done. I started on the 1st January and have been deleting, amended, copying and pasting, shifting chunks of dialogue about and all associated notions. It’s a Necessary, and it’s rather cool. Of course there is a problem, treating those important but very dull bits with the care and attention of all the exciting stuff.
Ahh, writing. Would we have it any other way?